You’re at the age now where you’re pretty comfortable with what you’re doing. At the office, you’re known as the person to go to when programs crash or deadlines change. On your own time, you’ve mastered the 5 minute mile and the art of French cooking. You don’t like to brag, but you’re good at what you do. That’s why your goal to learn how to play the guitar can be intimidating. In fact, it can be downright humbling. For once, in a very long time, you’re not the best at what you do. The teacher is now the student.

While the switch from the top to the bottom of the food chain can be disconcerting, don’t be discouraged by your fumbling with the fret. Even the masters had to start somewhere, and all of your favourite guitarists were in your very position at the beginning of their careers. It’s here, at the very beginning of your career, that you’ll create a solid musical foundation just like your rock icons until you can add guitar playing to your long list of achievements.

To do that, however, you have to start with the basics. First of all, you need a guitar. Decide on whether the acoustic or electric is for you. Electric guitar is great if you plan on rocking out mostly to the top pop and rock hits of today, or you have plans to fool around with sound-altering effects. Acoustic, on the other hand, is an excellent ‘play-wherever-you-go’ choice, as it doesn’t need any amplifier or cords to be heard. You can adapt it for the sharper, more aggressive sounds of rock, but it’s better suited for country and folk classics.

With that decision behind you, it’s onto make and model. As your first guitar, brand doesn’t matter as much, as the long as the guitar you choose has a smooth, even timber. Researching the differences between each brand can help you know what you’re getting into, but ultimately, you need to hear the differences for yourself before you can make an informed decision. Take a look at your calendar and set aside an afternoon on the weekend or an evening during the week to visit your local music store. Explain to the representative what you’re setting out to do, and they’ll make sure you find the ideal instrument for your first guitar.

Together, you can sort out the pros and cons of each model. If you’re as fastidious in your decision making as you are in all areas of your life, then you’re going to want to try them all. Fair enough—after all, you won’t know which one is your favourite until you try it. If selection is what you’re after then any of the Long & McQuade locations in Ontario are your best bet. They have unparalleled variety of guitars, from all of the top brands that you’ve heard of—and some you haven’t! Check out their Epiphone, Yamaha, Fender, and Gibson. Compare those to Ibanez, Martin, Taylor, and Danelectro. Choose whichever one matches your style or your wallet. It’s up to you!

Once you have a quality made guitar in your hands, you can start practicing. Set aside time during your week when you know nothing else will distract you from the guitar. If you can manage it, try plucking at the strings every day; but if that’s too much to ask from your already hectic schedule, a few times a week is enough—as long as you engage in deliberate practice. Your improvement isn’t so much determined by how many hours you put into your practice, but how much effort you put behind each minute you play.

To fully embrace your roll as student, it’s also a great idea to sign up for music lessons under an established guitar instructor, whom you can usually find at the very same guitar store you purchased your instrument. With these three things behind you—a great guitar, deliberate practice, and music lessons—you’ll become an expert faster than you think. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel once you can add that to your list of skills. Don’t wait to see what it feels like. Take your first step towards mastering the guitar today!

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